Biofeedback and relaxation techniques improves running economy in sub-elite long distance runners

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 May;31(5):717-22. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199905000-00015.


Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether a psychophysiological intervention of biofeedback and relaxation could decrease the submaximal oxygen consumption (VO2submax) during treadmill running and improve running economy for a group of trained long distance runners.

Methods: Before and after a 6-wk control phase, seven long distance runners were tested for running economy, peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak), peak running velocity, and stretch-shortening cycle efficiency. These runners then participated in a 6-wk training program in which they learned and practiced relaxation techniques and ran on the treadmill at a velocity eliciting 70% of peak running velocity for 10 min while biofeedback of heart rate (HR), ventilation (VE), and VO2 was presented to them.

Results: Data indicated that participants were able to lower their VO2, HR, and VE at lactate threshold by 7.3%, 2.5%, and 9.2%, respectively, using relaxation techniques (P<0.05). Post-tests of lactate threshold, VO2peak, peak running velocity, and stretch-shortening cycle efficiency showed that these changes did not occur as a result of a training effect.

Conclusion: It was concluded that the improvements in running economy occurred as a result of the psychophysiological intervention.

MeSH terms

  • Biofeedback, Psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Running / physiology*
  • Time Factors